Eulogies 3 Friends 1 (in progress)
The world has lost a great man. Things like this are not supposed to happen.
David Tuckchow Yue.
I was David’s Jewish brother. We met in 1969 in 7th grade. To this day I make a Jewish spread for sandwiches that my mother made especially for David. Liptuar was his favorite. We spent our formative years playing in a band, making ham radios, running and hoping to fit in. David was brilliant. That was clear from an early age. He was so proud of his father: the engineering professor at UCLA and his extremely hard working mother a nurse. In 12th grade we were on the tennis team: which meant we got an extra hour to study. Ultimately he left for Cambridge and I stayed in California. We always made time for each other: whether I spent nights at Dunster House or he came to Los Angeles. One of David’s undergraduate experiments used luciferase and we spent hours watching flasks glow in the dark.
The turning point for David came when he met Nancy. She was the true love of his life. She had to compete with his need to be in the lab. But David was devoted to Nancy. She brought out the playful David that he grew comfortable being. The grandest gift was his three boys: Daniel, Michael and Jon. The boys made David young: kept him playing piano, laughing and experimenting with new travel destinations.
I will miss David. For me there is no substitute. He was a man of great faith and shared his thoughts of death with me at his father’s recent funeral. Although he is blessed to be with the Lord it is not right that we have to say goodbye.
Ted Stein. MD
best friend, Pacific Palisades High School
Los Angeles, CA
We love you and wish that David could have remained in the world. The world needs such greatness and kindness. We all do.
Lori - Ted Stein's wife
I had the great pleasure of meeting David through a mutual friend John "Matza-balls" Matsumoto in Junior High School, getting to know him mostly during the occasional long summertime breaks, up to college. John & I were a grade-year younger than David, so David was the leader- now looking back, those were great times with David, expressing our teenage inner dreams and desires among trusted friends.
While most of you know of his tremendous intellectual accomplishments, he had a funny silly side that made him a great person to be around. David took the best traits of his family's high achievement culture and intense drive to succeed, and smoothly melded it to his relaxed So-Cal demeanor.
Here are some of my memories of David, random snapshots back in time-
Artistically & emotionally, David was an accomplished classical pianist, but during late nights, he would be the rebel & play some mighty fine jazz piano in the fusion style of George Benson music.
David was also a true 'ham' - a ham radio operator, that is, with his dynamic-duo partner Matza-balls- who would talk into the wee morning hours to people around the world- that led these two to sometimes be zombies during daylight hours!
Technically, we had some interests in creating realistic loud 'live sound' in respective parents' homes, and so built and assembled electronics and speakers from the ground-up, for some very large scale stereo systems that could play at 'live sound' levels- much to the neighbors' chagrin and annoyance!!!
Physically, David liked to challenge himself. During summer break when most kids were bored out of their skulls and laying around (no internet, email, & texting back then), my occasional bicycle rides to visit the dynamic-duo would mean an excruciating 'fun' run around their immediate area- very steep roads & hills snaking around the now infamous 'OJ Simpson' area in the Brentwood suburb of West Los Angeles.
David had the makings of a leader, starting from Revere Junior High School days. David chose to run for student council, and his memorable campaign slogan 'A Vote for Yue is a Vote For You!' still rings clearly in my mind. As just one of a handful of Asians at school, David used his smart humor and charisma to reach out to his classmates, and he easily succeeded in getting elected; and as we all know he went on to much greater things.
My strong impressions of David - a confident and refined Gentleman who didn't brag about his achievements, A Renaissance Man, A Man for All Seasons.
Yet for all his towering successes, we know his greatest happiness in life- manifested in the heartfelt love expressed in a letter from wife Nancy describing her and their children's love for David.
Los Angeles, CA
I find myself thinking of David and a whirlwind of thoughts fly through my mind—Plastic Cox control line airplanes (which would spin you around and around, making you so dizzy that you would crash face first into the ground, which meant the airplane followed the same fate [we made glue companies rich back then]); jazz piano music which was absolutely beautiful; high school rock bands (David’s rock bands were pretty broad. From Chicago to Bad Company); researching a new source of energy with a whirring blender, a stereo speaker, and horse poop. And the word “genius” definitely comes to mind.
Yes, David was a genius. And like many geniuses, the word fun was often a close companion of genius. Case in point, the “Howitzer”! The Howitzer was made from two steel pipes (one inserted into the other to make a doubled walled pipe for safety), which was then mounted on blocks of wood. The final touch was training wheels (that we “borrowed” from my brother’s bike) that we attached to the forward part of the Howitzer. It was a magnificent piece of engineering. David’s choice of projectile was an empty CO2 cartridge. The fuel for propulsion was match heads that we loaded into the CO2 cartridge. The ignitor was a match head wrapped with very small gauge, magnet wire, and the whole assembly was inserted into the rear of the Howitzer. It was a magnificent piece of engineering.
We lived near the top of one side of a canyon. A couple of lots up the street was a water pumping station, which had an open view of the canyon, and even better, that side of the canyon was unpopulated. It was the perfect location to test our device. We hauled the Howitzer and a car battery to the pumping station and aimed it toward the other side of the canyon. As the countdown reached zero, a current to the ignitor was applied, and…poof! With barely a sound the CO2 cartridge sailed across the canyon. It was a magnificent piece of engineering.
Sometime later, it was decided that adding some gun powder would enhance the fuel mixture. So off to the pumping station with this new fuel enhancement we marched. Three, two, one, zero! Power was again applied to the ignitor, and… KAAAA-BOOOOOOM!!! Soon, after the echoes of the explosion had died down, I could hear our neighbors yelling at us through the ringing in my ears. It was a not-so-magnificent piece of engineering. Years later I noticed that there is now a fence that restricts access to the pumping station lot. I think that we probably had a hand in the new fence. I now look upon that lot as the David Yue Projectile Propulsion Test Facility. The whole experience was a magnificent piece of engineering.
Because David is so unselfish, he is able to touch so many people. I can say personally that he is a large part of me. So many people will miss him so dearly, but as someone once said, “Friends don’t say good-bye, they just take extended leaves of absences from each other.”
Johns Matsumoto, childhood friend and neighbor in Los Angeles
San Diego, CA
David Yue was a bright teenager, studious, loved playing the piano, and always willing to participate in an adventure. David and my son, John, were good friends and always up to something. Whether it was going in together on a neighborhood TV repair business or coming up with speakers that would make the Coachella Music Festival envious, they were always looking forward to the next thing.
But one of the most daring and perhaps dangerous escapades was the natural gas balloon experiment. David and John decided to make huge balloons out of plastic dry cleaning covers. The way the balloons held the gas was pretty ingenious. They filled their homemade balloons with gas from the fireplace; the size of each balloon was probably half the size of their bodies. David and John asked for a ride to Santa Monica beach. I was happy to oblige. So I drove two teenagers and two gas filled balloons probably 10 miles down to the beach.
Once on the beach, the boys let the first balloon float a ways off before lighting it. The balloon became a huge fireball. The second balloon produced a slightly smaller fireball but a fireball nonetheless. The boys decided the experiment was a success.
David’s comment to me after the “experiment” was “boy, my mother would have never taken us to do this.” I then realized how naive I was to have done the transport and how dangerous it really was. This case of my ignorance being bliss was fortunate on many levels and I was very thankful that the three of us made it through this experience with not one mishap.
It was our family’s privilege to know David. He was a wonderful husband, father, friend, colleague, and such an example of the love of Jesus to everyone he met. Although the pain of his home going is raw, we grieve not as those who have no hope. We shall see David again and he’ll probably want to show us what a gas filled balloon can do by the sea of glass.
Clara Matsumoto, childhood neighbor in Los Angeles, mother to John
Los Angeles, CA
It was our family’s privilege to know him and we thank the Lord for the bright light he was to the world. Yes, we look forward to seeing him again.
My mom provided the story of the gas balloons. Oh how David loved and lived life to the fullest and how desperately he loved his family!
Please take care.
Gretchen Matsumoto, childhood neighbor, sister to John
Los Angeles, CA
I will always remember one day in particular with David. It was an exceptional day for no other reason than we somehow managed to avoid serious injury—and this day had plenty of opportunity for serious injury. As usual, I met David and my sister up the street where the bus dropped them off. My sister would walk home, and I would ride tandem with David to his house, which was across the street from ours.
We live on a very steep hill, making for a very short trip. But unknown to me, my brother John had ‘worked’ on the bike’s brakes the day before. My first indication that something was wrong was a change in David’s normally calm demeanor. “We’re not stopping” he said in a somewhat alarmed tone. We went hurling down the hill toward our impending doom as our street ended in a ‘T’.
David quickly laid out the plan. At the bottom of the street we take the right ‘T’, which would put us on a street with an uphill grade, allowing gravity slow us down. Unfortunately gravity had its own intentions. As we tried to negotiate the 90 degree turn, the tires wouldn't hold, and the bike laid-out, spilling its passengers onto the street.
David’s leg, along with his new pants, took the brunt of the damage, but we had miraculously escaped serious injury. But now faced yet another indignity—a long walk uphill back home.
-Frank Matsumoto, childhood neighbor, brother to John
Los Angeles, CA
David was an extraordinary man, husband, father - warm, engaging, intelligent and an inspiration to everyone he touched. Your boys already carry his spirit, his work ethic, his humor and his enviable moral compass within them. We hope that you are able to find some comfort in knowing that he was here to see them grow up into the phenomenal men they are today; for he surely foresaw their evolution from boys into the same kind of man that he was to them and you. He will be missed by everyone and there is no doubt that his contributions to Hopkins and the external world will be cherished and built upon for greater good.
Stephanie Citron, friend
As I learned at the beautiful memorial service yesterday, Dr. David Yue was known to have said there was “a word for every occasion”. Finding the right word (or words) to begin this letter to you is challenging. Perhaps the best way to begin is by repeating something I said to Vinny O’Grady this afternoon: for those of us who were fortunate enough to have spent any time at all with David Yue, we are better men and women. During the handful of days I was able to spend quality time with David (especially during a few unforgettable days in Cape Cod with the Boy Scouts), I saw the character in your husband and father that he believed was so very important.
David himself unquestionably exhibited the character every dad wants to see in his sons. Without a doubt, David’s sons are apples that have not fallen far from the tree, as the three of you make your dad (and mom) proud with the character you have developed and will continue to develop throughout your lives. I for one look forward to learning not just of the ways you will be able to show your character, but to learning about how you will use your own talents and gifts to touch lives in the same way your husband and father did.
Robert Burch, scout leader and friend
To write about David, I need to start with Nancy, the love of his life. I met Nancy in the fall of 1979, when we were freshmen at Johns Hopkins. Early in the semester I looked around my calculus classroom and saw a girl in a jacket with a curling patch on the sleeve (what was curling?) juggling a pile of books and a list of things to do. As a list-maker myself, I realized this would be a friend -- although 35 years ago I had no idea how long that friendship would last.
Nancy was a biomedical engineering major, and as we progressed in our studies she began to mention some of the graduate students she had met in the BME labs, particularly David and his buddies Joe and Dan. It wasn’t long before I met them also, and they formed the core of a wonderful extended group of friends. We shared outings to hear music, a memorable rain-soaked canoe trip, and a series of potluck dinners where each participant tried to out-cook the others. (And woe to he or she who didn’t honor the tradition of leaving all leftovers to the host! I took the last piece of my dessert home once, foiling David’s plan for a late-night snack, and had to apologize many times.) Meeting David and his friends was probably also responsible for my decision to follow them in the Hopkins MD-PhD program, which led me to a rewarding career.
Somewhere between the expeditions and evenings of conversation the rest of our Hopkins gang began to notice that David and Nancy were becoming a couple. This impression turned to certainly when David persuaded Joe that the obvious thing to do over a spring break was drive to Canada. I was visiting Nancy there at the time, having taken the easier route of flying, but it was pretty clear who had her attention! It seems now like only a short time later that I was meeting David’s family at a pre-wedding dinner in Mount Vernon, while Nancy’s mom disappeared into the restaurant kitchen to tell the cooks what dishes to prepare (and probably how to make them!). I remember David smiling as his father traded jokes with mine, and explained to my mother that he had toasted their future sons, rather than children, because of course that’s what Yues would be. And then I was standing next to Nancy as she beamed at David at the start of their wedding ceremony...
I moved away from Baltimore in 1992, so the next few decades seem a bit compressed, but we did manage visits when I came back to the area see my parents. David and Nancy’s family grew and his research flourished; it was always great to hang out in their kitchen and hear about the latest experiments, adventures, workouts, or family news. David and Nancy also stayed in close touch with my parents, including them in family events and often bringing the boys over to play or swim. I also knew I could always count on them to go by and help if my parents needed a hand; their generosity on such occasions was really wonderful. These visits always included music, with David enjoying my father’s baby grand piano and filling the room with sound, lost in the moment. Eventually that piano moved to the Yue’s living room, to my parents’ delight.
When I think of David, I see him with that characteristic intense and engaged look on his face, very slightly scrunching up his eyes and raising the corners of his mouth as he simultaneously tilts his head to the side and leans forward. The expression perhaps evoked by a scientific idea, a new flavor, or a beautiful piece of music - but always so David! In the moment, experiencing life deeply, enjoying the company of his friends, his colleagues, and most of all his family.
friend from Johns Hopkins University
St Louis, MO
I met David and Nancy back, way back, in the early days. We were just married, and David and Nancy married seven months later. David had just begun his career at Johns Hopkins. We soon became fast friends through House Church and raising our kids together. We sought after God, together. David was committed to the vision of Acts 2:42, where the early followers of Jesus devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to fellowship, to breaking bread together and to prayer. Over the years, our conversations covered quite a range.
Do you want to see David smile? Just ask him what’s up in the lab. He will get that glimmer in his eye. If you know David, you’ve seen it. Once, we spent hours at the dining room table as he diagrammed calcium ion channels for me on a napkin. He suffered through my questions and lack of understanding. In the end, what I learned was that science is hard work, and Dave was good at it.
For a guy who ran a world-class lab at a world-class institution, I was struck by David’s humility, caring and practicality. I had the opportunity to come up to his lab once to look at a problem he was having with one of his computers. They were hardly state of the art, but they were effective for what he was doing and he was happy to conserve his grant funds to further the science at hand and to continue to pay the staff entrusted to him. He never took the funding or the success for granted. He would put in many late nights on that next grant request to keep the lab funded. When he resurfaced, we’d ask how it was. He’d say it was good, but there were no guarantees of future funding.
As far as I’m concerned, David set the high bar for parenting. He somehow managed to juggle a demanding career with more than just being present. He enjoyed, led, taught and inspired. We would frequently find ourselves at the Yue’s house, enjoying David and Nancy’s hospitality. While our kids played together in another room, we’d debate the finer points of some theological or scientific question, or maybe just enjoy an impromptu concert at the piano.
David also cared deeply about the community of people that God had put around him. He was always willing to pitch in to solve a problem, even if it meant hosting someone at his house. Sunday mornings would find him in a classroom at Grace Fellowship Church. He’d be leading the “Search for Answers” class on their quest to help people bridge the span between science and sacred.
Some of my fondest memories of our times together are the discussions about the nature of heaven. What is the nature of the soul? What does it mean to be reunited with our loved ones who’ve gone before us? And, well, will there be pets in heaven?
David has unexpectedly shed his earthly body and we are sad for that. It is not what any of us would wish for David, or Nancy, Michael, Daniel and Jonathan.
I look forward to seeing David again, in the presence of Jesus, and to continuing our discussions where we left off. There, not hampered by time or distance, perhaps we’ll be able to find a little table and maybe a napkin to draw on.